New London — The Coast Guard Band is here to stay, Adm. Paul Zukunft announced Tuesday.
In a prepared statement, Coast Guard Commandant Zukunft said the “careful review” of whether to relocate the 55-member band, which began in September, was initiated in part to ensure the band is fulfilling its role of representing the Coast Guard.
“The Coast Guard band is a proud symbol of the Service's 225-year heritage,” Zukunft said in the statement. “As the only military service without its band in the Washington D.C. region, it was important to examine the various options for enhancing the band's national visibility to best serve the Coast Guard.”
Ultimately, Zukunft and the working group that researched the costs and logistics of a potential relocation decided to keep the band in New London, but to work harder to find and seize opportunities for it to perform in the Washington, D.C., area and at key venues across the nation.
Housed in Leamy Hall at the Coast Guard Academy, the band has called New London home since its 1925 establishment.
New London Mayor Michael Passero said he was overjoyed by the news — not only because the band entertains at so many local venues but also because families of band members who have settled in the area will not be uprooted.
"Everybody here has shared in the band's success," Passero said. "The Coast Guard Band is not only an integral part of the Coast Guard Academy but has been integral to the identity of southeastern Connecticut and especially the city of New London for over 90 years."
This isn't the first time the Coast Guard has considered relocating its band — it proposed the idea in 1976 and again in 1981.
The second instance resulted in a petition drive to keep the band in New London.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal along with Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, praised the decision to keep the band in New London.
Earlier this year — and in response to the September decision to look at a possible relocation of the band — Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a provision in a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that would have prohibited the relocation of the Coast Guard Band from New London.
Since it was a one-year appropriations bill, lawmakers would have needed to reauthorize the provision each year, but that's no longer necessary since Zukunft said the band is staying in the city.
"The U.S. Coast Guard band has called New London home since Day One, and I worked hard on the Senate Appropriations Committee to make sure it stayed there," Murphy said.
"For over a century, the band and its members have educated our students about the Coast Guard and performed for audiences worldwide," he said. "I'm thrilled that the band is staying here in New London. Their decision is an important reminder of the unmatched partnership New London shares with the U.S. Coast Guard."
Courtney added, "This development will resolve once and for all the homeport for the U.S. Coast Guard Band while allowing it to move forward with its goal of increasing the band's national visibility to better promote the Coast Guard's service to our country."
"This announcement is also good news for band members and their families who are longtime residents of southeastern Connecticut and would have been faced with the difficult choice of uprooting or retiring from the Coast Guard altogether," he said.
The Coast Guard Band will celebrate its 226th anniversary on Sunday.
The full 55-member ensemble plays about 20 concerts a year that are open to the public. As with other U.S. military bands, its concerts are free of charge.